Hearts got us over the line last Sunday – just about – as they dumped Hibs out of the Scottish Cup with a late winner at Tynecastle and they earn the nod again this weekend on league duty as best bet.
There wasn’t a lot to separate the Edinburgh rival in that cup clash, with Hearts taking advantage of the half chance that came their way late in the piece when Don Cowie’s header just about squeezed over the line from a corner.
If there was little to separate them on the field, there was certainly a developing gap between the rival bosses afterwards.
Craig Levein suggested that the win, Hearts first in ten derby games, was a step towards restoring the “natural order” in the capital, a statement that incensed opposite number Neil Lennon – admittedly something that can be done easily enough!
Levein’s team backed up their win on Wednesday night as they scored three second-half goals for a convincing success away at Hamilton.
The signing of Steven Naismith already looks clever business from Hearts and the Jambos can make it three wins in six days by obliging at odds of 10/11 at home to Motherwell on Saturday.
The Steelmen overcame basement club Ross County at Fir Park on Wednesday but that ended a run of eight games in the league without a win. They face a much tougher exam against a Hearts side unbeaten in six in the league and that hasn’t conceded a goal in eight games in all competitions, dating back to December second.
Levein will want a win to help his side maintain pressure on fourth-placed Hibs, currently five points ahead of them.
Any thoughts that Lennon might quickly forget the post-match comments of his city rival were wiped out after Hibs midweek win at Dundee. The former Celtic boss suggested that ‘the gloves are off now’ when it comes to their nearest neighbours.
Lennon has proved a thorn in the side of his old club this season, with Hibs earning two draws in three meetings with Celtic so far this term. They go to Parkhead on Saturday, where the teams drew 2-2 earlier in the season.
Celtic didn’t hit the high notes in midweek at Partick Thistle and, with transfer talk still lurking over Moussa Dembele, the champions will be glad to welcome in February. Hibs are capable of competing again in the East End of Glasgow and at 17/4 there are many worse bets than a draw in this one.
Elsewhere, Kilmarnock’s six-game unbeaten run on the road can continue with a point at Aberdeen, priced at 11/4, while on Sunday Rangers should take care of Ross County with a minimum of fuss on the back of their midweek success against Aberdeen.
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